Friday, January 30, 2009

Thoughts on Frank Bidart

I'm reading Frank Bidart's In the Western Night right now, and it's important enough that I mention it here. What immediately caught my eye:

Guilty of Dust

up and down from the infinite C E N T E R
B R I M M I N G the winking rim of time

the voice in my head said



then I saw the parade of my loves

those PERFORMERS comics actors singers

forgetful of my very self so often I
desired to die to myself to live in them

then my PARENTS my FRIENDS the drained
SPECTRES once filled with my baffled infatuations

love and guilt and fury and
sweetness for whom

nail spirit yearning to the earth

then the voice in my head said





There is a fatalism about Bidart. He seems to be continually confronting the issue: what can we choose. Not who/what we love, certainly. (What was Jesus thinking with those crazy commandments, love, forgive!?) Oh, no doubt, we can choose our acts, but not the emotions that precede them. Really? You think you can? Come off it. You think you chose by an act of the will those persons you love? If you did, you're a lot stronger than I am.

"Confessional" takes this idea even further. It's much too long (20-some pages) to type in here, but it explores the relationship between a mother and a son and forgiveness. The son discovers after the mother has died that they have not forgiven one other, despite the fact that they have not lived in outward revolt against each other. The first section ends with "forgiveness doesn't exist". Finally, someone has said it. And then "I did will to forgive her/but FORGIVENESS lay beyond the will."

So then what? Is he right? I don't know. But it does seem to be a valid question to ask. I mean, we've been asking it for millenia. We've devised complicated rituals to answer the question, can we forgive/be forgiven. Goodness, Christians believe that they can solve everything by cruxification, that somehow that will make everything else okay. Why in the world would that make everything else okay? And if you really think that it does, why do you still have a long list of people who you have not forgiven, who you cannot will yourself to forgive? My favorite theologian, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, has a sermon on this very thing, but he still believes forgiveness is an act of the will. But what if it is not, as I am beginning to suspect?

I'm not typing to make you mad, despite all evidence to the contrary. (I attempted this discussion with Gene and he said I was ruining date night. I guess we have different ideas about date night.) I'm just saying Bidart is making some very interesting assertions in his poetry, assertions worth exploring, and I'm glad to at last be reading something worth wrestling with.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Indiana Sunset

Kopland Review

Last year I mentioned how much I enjoyed the Dutch poet Rutger Kopland. There's a very nice review of his work in the British lit mag Parameter. Check it out here. You'll have to scroll around to the dark blue block and then down again to Kopland. The whole mag is worth looking over, though.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


January seems to be wrapping itself up, thank god, or who/whatever. Just a few more days. Yes, Oregon does sound fine. Or Washington. Or Arizona. Jojo has claimed California for her own. Greedy little thing.

On the brighter side, I had my first postop visit today. I'm still under the do-absolutely-nothing-you-would-like-to-do restriction, but otherwise things look good. The pathology report came back as expected, full of pre-cancerous cells, but nothing to worry about because the problem has been removed. Three more weeks and I might be able to go about my merry way.

I'll be passing on AWP this time around. Unlike Nicole, I have very little desire to encounter Chi-town in the winter. And really, I'm just not ready to go anyway.

Mid to late February we'll have an FGWC thing.

Oh, on the Chinese calendar, today is the birthday of all dogs. So, Bonita, Hoosier, Whiskey, Bogey, Marley, Ella, and all you other dogs, happy birthday! Go chew yourself a bone.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

He's Out There

(Working hard...)

THE DEFENDANT: The evidence --
THE DEFENDANT: -- is tampered.
THE COURT: Okay. So you think the evidence has been tampered with?
THE COURT: Okay. Can you be specific about that?
THE DEFENDANT: I didn't cut him in the back nor his legs.
THE DEFENDANT: I only cut the head off.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Happy Heikinpäivä!

My goodness, I almost forget! Heikinpäivä! Roll over that bear...

Low-Residency MFA?

So, the future. It's poking its head around all my corners, looking me over. Hmm. What to do.

Bonnie Jo mentioned teaching at a low-residency MFA program out in Oregon on her blog this a.m.. I'm wondering. Maybe this would be something to consider. Maybe it would be a better fit for my future. Thoughts?

Saturday, January 17, 2009


So, who's going to AWP? Hmmm.

Most of you know I had a little surgery this week, but I'm feeling like I might be up to it. So, what do you all think? Yes? No?

Monday, January 12, 2009


Kasey has a poem, "Dissection," up at Arsenic Lobster! Wonderful!!!

And Sarah's chapbook, In The Voice of a Minor Saint, is out at Tilt. Wow!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Let The Rebuilding Begin

After months of staring at our neighbors' burnt out house,
the backhoe came.

This guy made short work of it.

At least the knocking over part.

He spent all day shoveling the pile into a giant dumpster.

Ann and Dale.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Vince has a poem, "Death Itself is Rather Abstract," up at Merge. Congrats! It's a great piece.

Finland, Finland, Finland

It's been a long, almost jobless fall for Tom (insert parental wailing, gnashing of teeth), but at long last he has gainful employment! The national tour of Spamalot is coming to the Morris Civic Theater this week and he's been hired to play bass (insert great parental rejoicing.) This will put him in gas money and books for the whole semester and maybe even lead to a few more jobs (insert angels singing.) And he gets to play The Finnish "Fisch Schlapping Song." All is well with the world.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Tree of Life

Jojo will be turning 18 on January 12th. For this momentous occasion she has been dreaming of getting a tattoo. I want to thank all of you who have encouraged her in this quest. (Your names will not be forgotten.) Be that as it may, she's looking at a Norse World Tree/Tree of Life to put around her ankle. It sounds fairly cool. She explained to me all the mythology behind it, the golden apple, immortality... But I think she could have just written a poem.